ADAS Simple Guide to Telescope Instrumentation and Operation

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Transcript ADAS Simple Guide to Telescope Instrumentation and Operation

ADAS Guide to
Instrumentation and
Produced by Members
of the Society, April
The ADAS authors hope that this guide will prove useful
and ask you to provide a feedback about any features that
require further clarification. One final suggestion is do a
Google search and with patience you will frequently obtain
some answers to your queries, i.e., from Wikipedia, NASA,
Articles on the web
1. Some general notes
Rising, setting and transit times of the sun, planets & major stars
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Animations
A short guide to star hopping
Types of Telescope
1. Refractor (lens) - Galileo,
2. Reflector (Mirror) - Newton,
1. Refractor Telescopes
Galilean The original design Galileo Galilei came up with in 1609 is
commonly called a Galilean telescope. It used a convergent (planoconvex) objective lens and a divergent (plano-concave) eyepiece lens
(Galileo, 1610). A Galilean telescope, because the design has no
intermediary focus, results in an non-inverted and upright image.
Kepelerian The principle of operation of the Keplerian telescope is
relatively simple. The objective forms a real image, diminished in size and
upside-down, of the object observed. The eyepiece — which, consisting of
a converging lens with short focal length, is actually a magnifying lens —
enlarges the image formed by the objective. The image observed is
however upside-down, so that the Keplerian telescope, at least for
terrestrial use, must be fitted with some kind of erector device which, by
inverting the image again, erects it. But this disadvantage is amply
compensated for by a much greater and more evenly illuminated field of
view than that of the Galilean telescopes.
2. Reflector Telescopes
The Newtonian telescope was the first successful reflecting
telescope, completed by Isaac Newton in 1668. It usually has a paraboloid
primary mirror but at focal ratios of f/8 or longer a spherical primary
mirror can be sufficient for high visual resolution. A flat secondary mirror
reflects the light to a focal plane at the side of the top of the telescope
tube. It is one of the simplest and least expensive designs for a given size
of primary, and is popular with amateur telescope makers as a home-build
The Cassegrain telescope (sometimes called the "Classic
Cassegrain") was first published in an 1672 design attributed to Laurent
Cassegrain. It has a parabolic primary mirror, and a hyperbolic secondary
mirror that reflects the light back down through a hole in the primary.
Folding and diverging effect of the secondary creates a telescope with a
long focal length while having a short tube length.
Telescope Optics- Lens System
How The Telescope Objective Works
Above is a simple telescope diagram of how the objective lens of a telescope
works. The telescope objective is represented by a simple convex lens. In truth,
modern refractors usually have two lenses that make up the objective, and they
may be convex (curved out on both sides) or plano-convex (bulged out on one
side, flat on the other). The multiple lens setup is used to compensate for
chromatic limitations of a simple single lens. The reflector type telescopes use
a concave mirror as an objective instead of a lens.
The purpose of the objective is to take incoming light from a distant source and
bring it to a focus. In the diagram, light from a desired target enters from the
left, and is bent to a focus on the right. An eyepiece placed at the focus will create
an image for the observer's eye.
In the case presented, the focal length (FL) of the lens (L) is the distance from the
lens to the convergence point. Since telescope magnification results from the
ratio of the objective focal length to the eyepiece focal length, it follows that the
longer the focal length of the telescope objective, the more magnification any
given eyepiece will provide.
Magnification = Objective FL / Eyepiece FL.
Magnification increases, therefore, when the focal length of the eyepiece
is shorter or the focal length of the objective is longer. For example, a
25 mm eyepiece in a telescope with a 1200 mm focal length would
magnify objects 48 times. A 4 mm eyepiece in the same telescope would
magnify 300 times.
Telescope Optics
Barlow Lens
One easy way to boost magnification is to use a Barlow lens. The
image below illustrates what a Barlow lens does when placed in the path of the
converging rays of the objective. The initial image shows the same simple lens
diagram shown before.
With a Barlow lens between the eyepiece and the telescope objective, the
magnification is computed by dividing the effective focal length by the eyepiece
focal length. Since the effective focal length is much longer than the objective's
inherent focal length, the magnification of any given eyepiece will be much greater.
That, in a nutshell is how a Barlow lens increases magnification for any given
Cone of light behind a doublet object lens (A)
without (red) and with (green) a Barlow lens (B)
Telescope Mounts
Essentially, there are two types of mounts with a number of variations
for Newtonian, Cassegrain or refractor telescopes :
Alt-azimuth (simpler)
Equatorial (more complex)
The Alt-azimuth is preferred for large Observatory telescopes and the
equatorial by the amateur with small telescopes.
Alt-azimuth Mount
Equatorial Mount
showing elevation and
showing angle of latitude,
declination and
(horizontal axis)
polar axes (RA)
The Alt-azimuth mount is certainly simplest, allowing the telescope to be
pointed up and down, and around (azimuth-horizontal plane). The
various equatorial designs are made to facilitate easier tracking of
celestial objects. Each of these come with variations to allow for
telescope size and weight, and slow motion or motor control. A few of
the most common configurations are shown above.
It is common today for modern telescopes to include not only clock
drive mounts, but computerized clock drives that allow the user to
simply select objects via computer or hand-held controller. The
telescope computer and drive then do the work and locate objects.
The Celestial Sphere,
The Ecliptic, Right Ascension & Declination
The Earth rotates
from West to East
as viewed from
the North pole.
Key Celestial equator ; ecliptic ; north and south celestial poles, vernal equinox
Right Ascension, 0 – 24 hours proceeding, east around the Celestial Equator
Vernal or Spring equinox, March 21 (12 hours day and night), where the ecliptic,
path of the sun, intersects the Celestial Equator and Right Ascension = 0 hours.
Declination, 0 degrees at the celestial equator ; 90 degrees at the N & S celestial
The earth is tilted on its axis by 23.5 degrees accounting for the difference
between the ecliptic- the path of the sun and the celestial equator
As a result of the tilt the path of the sun appears to maximise 23.5 degrees north
and south of the earth’s equator on June 21 and December 21, in summer in the
northern and southern hemispheres
Note the limits of the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn are 23,5 degrees north and
south of the earth’s equator, respectively
The earth rotates on its axis every 24 h (sidereal time- 23h 56m) and scans around
the whole northern hemisphere sky in day and night time. Except for the sun,
moon ( & venus) stars in daylight cannot be not observed.
As Earth orbits the sun, the sun appears to drift
across the background stars. The ecliptic marks
the path of the sun. It’s the projection of Earth’s
orbit onto the sky. And it’s an essential part of
any stargazer’s vocabulary.
The plane of the Ecliptic - red circle, intersects the plane of the celestial
sphere- blue circle, twice and represents the path of the sun as the earth
orbits the sun – inner red circle
The constellations/stars around the ecliptic are shown in green
Practical Aspects of Astronomy
Notes on how to set up a telescope for observing
When setting up a telescope for observing the big question is where to
If the moon is visible then an easy way of commencing
observations is by viewing the moon with a 25 mm eyepiece and using a
finder scope for a wider field of view. An alt-azimuth mounted telescope
is easy to rotate and position at the correct angle. However, if there is no
clock drive the frustrating feature is that the moon will move out of the
field of view and the telescope will require re-positioning.
Although the equatorial mounted telescope is more complex in operation,
it can be easily fitted with a clock drive, which enables the telescope to
rotate to compensate for the rotation of the earth. However, the first step
is to angle the telescope parallel to the earth surface at the latitude of the
observer which for Manchester is 53.78 degrees north, a = latitude in the
diagram below.
Polar axis or Right
Ascension, RA and
RA is measured
in hours and DEC
in degrees
The Setting Circles consist of two graduated disks attached to the right
ascension (RA) and declination (DEC) axis of an equatorial mount as
illustrated above. The right ascension disk is graduated into hours,
minutes, and seconds. The declination disk is graduated into degrees,
minutes, and seconds. Since right ascension coordinates are fixed to
the celestial sphere the RA disk is usually driven by a clock mechanism
in sync with sidereal time (23 h 56 m). Locating an object on the celestial
sphere with setting circles is similar to finding a location on a terrestrial
map using latitude and longitude.
Practical Aspects of Astronomy
Notes on how to set up a telescope for observing
After the telescope has been positioned for the correct latitude on a
moonlit night the telescope can be easily directed to observe the moon
and the planets, such as, Mars, Jupiter (and Galilean moons) and Saturn
(rings with Cassini division). With clock drive the telescope will follow
the object (some drift may be experienced)
For rising, setting and transit times of planets & stars refer to
Example for Mars on May 02, 2014
Mars manchester Location: 0°00'00.0", N53°45'00.0", 50m (Longitude referred to
Greenwich meridian) Time Zone: Greenwich
Rise Az.
Transit Alt.
Set Az.
2014 May 02 (Fri) 16:13 94
22:00 33S
03:51 266 (hours min degrees)
As mentioned earlier, Right Ascension, RA, is measured in hours around
the celestial equator. Since the stars are almost motionless their RAs are
the coordinates in time commencing from the zero hour position which is
around March 21, the Vernal or Spring equinox (12 hours, equal day and
night time), which is when the ecliptic, the path of sun, intersects the
celestial equator. This position is known as the first point in Aries in the
constellation of Pisces. The RAs are measured east to west, therefore,
for example, the Pole star is at an RA 2h 31m east of the RA, at the Vernal
Equinox, which is 0 hours, the starting point.
To carry out constellation, star, galaxy, nebula observations, other than
the easily observable, and well-known, requires a knowledge of the RA
and DEC coordinates for the objects of interest, the date, rising, setting
and transit times.
However, two easily identifiable constellations, namely, Ursa Major or the
Plough and Orion, can be employed to exemplify how to find well-known
stars and features and to use these coordinates.
Polaris can be locate using The Plough and the setting circles for 13
coordinates of this star as described on page 13.
Practical Aspects of Astronomy
Some well-known features of the night sky
The Plough (in Ursa Major) is easily observed and there two stars which
act as pointers to Polaris, The Pole Star, which is the brightest star in
Ursa Minor. This star is virtually motionless at a DEC of approx 89
degrees and RA 2h 31m and is known by a variety of names, north star,
guide star, lodestar ; it is very close to the north celestial pole.
•Right Ascension: 11 hours
•Declination: 50 degrees
•Visible between latitudes 90 and -30 degrees
•Best seen in Spring.
Orion is probably the most easily identifiable and the most prominent
constellation. It also has some of the most interesting features, for
example, Betelgeuse 300 times brighter than the sun, the Orion nebulae
M42 and star clusters in the vicinity, M45, as illustrated on page 14.
•DEC 5 degrees
• Observable
latitudes, +85 and -75
•Best seen in January
Practical Aspects of Astronomy
Some well-known features of the night sky
Practical Aspects of Astronomy
Some well-known features of the night sky
Different parts of the sky are observed at night during the seasons of the
year as indicated in the diagram below for the northern hemisphere. The
sun obscures the constellations as shown and the earth’s darkened
regions in the different seasons point towards the constellations
observed, for example, Orion and Canis Major are Winter features.
RA 22 00 & 01 00 h
RA 5.52 &
RA 19 00 ; 18 36
7 00 h
& 17 00 h
RA 11 00 &13 25 h